Biblical references to the wings of birds are common, especially in Psalms, many of them exquisitely poetical. Often the wings of an eagle are mentioned because they are from 7 to 9 feet in sweep, of untiring flight, and have strength to carry heavy burdens: so they became the symbol of strength and endurance. Ancient monuments and obelisks are covered with the heads of bulls, lions, different animals, and men even, to which the wings of an eagle were added to symbolize strength. Sometimes the wings of a stork are used to portray strong flight, as in the vision of Zechariah: "Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there came forth two women, and the wind was in their wings; now they had wings like the wings of a stork; and they lifted up the ephah between earth and heaven" (5:9). The wings of a dove symbolized love. Wings in the abstract typified shelter, strength or speed, as a rule, while in some instances their use was ingenious and extremely poetical, as when Job records that the Almighty used wings to indicate migration: "And stretcheth her wings toward the south" (39:26). In Ps 17:8 there is a wonderful poetical imagery in the plea, "Hide me under the shadow of thy wings." In Ps 18:10 there is a reference to "the wings of the wind." And in 55:6 the Psalmist cries, "Oh that I had wings like a dove!" The brightness and peace of prosperous times are beautifully described in Ps 68:13, the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with pale green gold.’ The first rays of dawn are compared to "the wings of the morning" (139:9). Solomon was thinking of the swiftness of wings when he said, "For riches’ certainly make themselves wings, like an eagle that flieth toward heaven" (Pr 23:5). So also was Isaiah in 40:31, "They that wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." In Mal 4:2 the King James Version, there is a beautiful reference, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." the Revised Version (British and American) changes "his" to "its." Wings as an emblem of love were used by Jesus in the cry, "O Jerusalem .... how often would I have gathered thy children .... as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" (Mt 23:37).

Gene Stratton-Porter